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Browns lock up starting left guard Joel Bitonio with contract extension

By Nate Ulrich Published: March 9, 2017

Click the link for an updated version of this story: Browns bolster interior of offensive line by striking deals with top-rated guard Kevin Zeitler, center J.C. Tretter

The Browns signed starting left guard Joel Bitonio to a multi-year contract extension on Thursday.

The five-year deal is worth $51 million and includes $23 million guaranteed. Bitonio will be under contract through the 2022 season.

"It’s important for us to identify the young talented players on our roster, who fit our culture and make sure they remain Cleveland Browns," head of football operations Sashi Brown said in a news release. "Joel has proven that he is a smart, tough, physical football player and we view him as one of the best young linemen in this league. He exemplifies what we look for in a young leader on and off the field. We are excited to keep him here to be part of our foundation for a number of years to come."

Bitonio, 25, is one of the team's best young players, but he has been hindered by injuries the past two seasons. He had been scheduled to enter the final season of his rookie contract in the fall.

Bitonio suffered a Lisfranc injury this past season and missed 11 games. The Browns expect him to be back in time to start the 2017 season.

Bitonio missed six games in 2015 with two ankle injuries.

A second-round draft pick in 2014, Bitonio has started all 31 games in which he has appeared.

"I am so excited to be part of the Browns organization," Bitonio said in the release. "I want to thank the Haslams [owners Jimmy and Dee], Sashi [Brown], Coach [Hue] Jackson, [director of football administration] Chris [Cooper], everyone for getting this done. They have unbelievable faith in me and I have faith in them. I am really pumped to be here to try to help build this up and turn the Browns around."

Check Ohio.com later Thursday for more about this story.

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